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All Book Reviews

The Long Earth
Pratchett, Terry and Stephen Baxter
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Having read a few of Sir Terry Pratchett's books before, I am no stranger to the randomness of his writing style. Usually, he has some character or object that just doesn’t fit in a normal narrative, but he manages to work it in with an explanation that’s both natural and makes sense. However, this only works if Pratchett has control over the entire story. Unfortunately, as is the case in The Long Earth, the randomness that Pratchett brings to the table sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the mostly sci-fi story. For instance, does an artificial intelligence have to be a reincarnated Tibetan motorcycle repairman? If you want to take the story seriously, probably not.

In the end, this book seems to be mostly written by Stephen Baxter, with only a smattering of Pratchett’s charm thrown in occasionally for levity. I haven’t read any of Baxter’s other books, but I’m not sure if I’d want to, considering how The Long Earth was put together. First off, the entire book seems to be an exposition dump about “stepping,” which is the process wherein people can move from one parallel universe into another. None of the narratives seems dedicated to anything in particular. With no goal in mind, the story will often get distracted away from the main character during little vignettes that explore some of the potentials of the multiverse theory presented therein.

I did appreciate the amount of thought that went into the limitations and peculiarities of stepping between parallel Earths, but when that’s the only focus of the book, it tended to get repetitive. So often, I’d be listening to this audiobook and realize that there wasn’t much dialogue between these characters; they were mostly spewing out more explanation about the Long Earth in a series of expository dumps of information.

A book full of sci-fi exposition, I give The Long Earth 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
Briar Rose
Yolen, Jane
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Based in modern day America, this novel tells the story of a girl trying to
discover her grandmother's past after hearing the story of Briar Rose for
many years. After her grandmother dies with her last words being, "Promise me
you will find the castle. Promise me you will find the prince. Promise me you
will find the maker of the spells," Becca will not give up looking for her
grandmother's lost origins. She goes through the contents in the box left to
her relentlessly, until she finds the name "Kulmhof" on a piece of paper.
Becca proceeds to make some calls, and finally takes a trip to Poland where
she meets a certain Josef Potocki. Josef then reveals to Becca the story of
her grandmother's past. It was a brutal and ruthless history of origin
occurring during the Holocaust.

Even though the book was quite interesting and definitely kept me reading,
there was some content I personally found disturbing. Most of this content
consists of Josef Potocki being openly and quite obviously gay and a gay and
lesbian agenda being enforced throughout the entire book. There was also a
brief description of a sexual encounter between Josef and one of his former
gay lovers that was completely disgusting.

Overall, I could not stop reading this book and found it very intriguing! The
three stars is because of the unnecessary LGBTQ references and sexual
encounter. If not for those few things, this book would have been downright
amazing.

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Genres:
Mixed: A Colorful Story
Chung, Arree
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Our new favorite! The author uses primary colors and color theory to describe segregation and racism. Once blue and yellow decide to mix a rainbow of possibilities opens up.

Reviewer's Name: Beth S.
Genres:
Pebble in the Sky
Asimov, Isaac
2 stars = Meh
Review:

As I pulled together some of the information for this review, I became aware that Pebble in the Sky was Isaac Asimov's first novel. To be honest, that explains a lot. I’d read a few Asimov books before— I, Robot being a personal favorite—so I was a little disappointed with this story. If anything, it showed Asimov’s potential for bigger and better stories, or at least stories that were a little more focused. As it is, Pebble in the Sky provided the groundwork for prequels and some of Asimov’s best writing, but it remains fairly rough in comparison.

Some of the ideas in Pebble in the Sky are certainly noteworthy, including an age limit for humans and telepathic abilities. We also see here the ability of science fiction to address social issues as well. In this case, racism was the topic du jour, which was definitely in the early edges of revolution in 1950. And yet, the political commentary wasn’t nearly as subtle here as it could have been. Furthermore, while the more fantastical ideas presented here had some merit, their execution probably needed a little extra work. It’s a good first book, but it’s far from perfect.

It’s weird to me that I found a book by Isaac Asimov so mediocre, but I suppose that merely accentuates how great an author he eventually became. His future works would subsequently have the greater depth of thought that went into their premises and science, but as Pebble in the Sky shows us, that wasn’t always the case. There almost seem to be too many ideas crammed into this book to allow adequate time to explore each one. Consequently, when it jumps around from one subplot to another, it can be a little easy to get lost in the transition.

Isaac Asimov’s adequate first novel, I give Pebble in the Sky 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Dear Mrs. Bird
Pearce, AJ
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book took me on an emotional roller-coaster! The beginning bits were so funny, I figured it was going to be more of a slapstick comedy (which I was okay with), and then the reality that this was set in London during the Blitz set in, and I found myself gasping. Plucky Emmaline is such a lovable character, I would love if the author would consider revisiting her life in the future! Strongly recommend for those who enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. While it is not written in letters, Dear Mrs. Bird packs a similar emotional punch.

Reviewer's Name: Krista M.
Awards:
Genres:
Wanderlost
Malone, Jen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wanderlost is about a girl named Aubree who is perfectly comfortable
with living in laid back Ohio. It's predictable and she's fine with that. One
night when her parents are gone, Aubree decides to throw a party where her
perfect goody two shoes sister named Elizabeth unexpectedly shows up. She
doesn't seem to mind and she promises to keep the party a secret. But then
the cops show up at the house and when one of the cops knows Elizabeth, he is
desperate to get her into trouble for "serving underage drinkers" even though
she never did. The tour company Elizabeth was going to work for is her only
way to get into the job that she's been dreaming about forever. But because
Elizabeth gets arrested, she begs Bree to go do the tour and pretend to be
Elizabeth. After lots of persuading, Bree reluctantly agrees. She never
expected to spend her summer traveling across Europe to several different
incredible sites with five elderly people. Bree then has phone conversations
with a boy named Sam whom she can't help falling for. I bet every reader will
fall for him too ;) I know I did. Eventually, Bree knows she needs to tell
Sam the truth about who she is. Can she do it? This book is one of the best
books I've ever read. The author is great at describing feelings and the
characters were round. I hope you guys will fall in love with the characters
and plot as much as I have.

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Ware, Ruth
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

2 1/2 stars. It was a fun Gothic-type novel, but nothing really memorable. If you just need something light to read with not too much substance (I call them "chewing gum" books), you may enjoy this title. This is my 3rd Ruth Ware novel to which I've given 2 1/2-3 stars so I think I'm done with her books.

Reviewer's Name: Krista M.
Awards:
The Rejected Writers' Book Club
Kelman, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you need a laugh-out-loud book with plenty of zany characters and a main character who happens to be a librarian, PICK UP THIS BOOK NOW!!! These are a wacky group of writers, and you will just have a good time following their adventures. Be sure to read the next two books in the series - "Rejected Writers Take the Stage", and "The Rejected Writers Christmas Wedding."

Reviewer's Name: Krista M.
Genres:
Apollo 8
Kluger, Jeffrey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In August 1968, NASA made the bold decision to win a major battle in
the Cold War by launching the first manned flight to the moon. President
Kennedy's deadline of putting a man on the moon by 1970 was fast approaching,
but Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were up to the challenge to
make a huge advancement in order to meat the deadline. Apollo 8 tells the
full story of the mission from Mission Control to the astronauts' homes, from
the test labs to the launch pad. Apollo 8 also gives a summary of the
Mercury, Gemini, and the other Apollo missions and talks about the science
behind the mission in an easy to understand manner. From the coauthor of the
bestselling book about Apollo 13, Apollo 8 is a thrilling yer informative
tale and a great resource to have. I highly recommend this book for anyone in
high school or older who is fascinated by the space program or is doing a
project on anything related to NASA.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Awards:
Genres:
The Science of Breakable Things
Keller, Tae
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I loved this book and its amazing way of taking a classic plot
like a dead mother and transforming it into a mother than only seems dead,
but is actually sick with depression. The main character, Natalie, misses how
her mom used to act and be around her. When her teacher Mr. Neely requires a
science project for school and suggests a egg drop, she enters the
competition determined to win the cash prize. Natalie thinks she can use the
money to take her mom and herself to see a rare blue orchid her mom used to
study when she still worked. With the help of her best friend and a new
acquaintance, will her hopes to have her mom back to normal splat right in
front of her? I recommend this book for an easy, but inspiring read about
friendship, family, and keeping hope alive.

Reviewer's Name: Cook, Anna
Genres:
Curtsies & Conspiracies
Carriger, Gail
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As Sophronia Temminnick goes into her second year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's
Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality she is learning more and more
ways to kill with weapons, poisons, and over tea. To infiltrate a hive of
vampires. And to subdue you by simply looking at you. For this is no normal
finishing academy, it is a school that is training her to be a spy. With 10
boys from Bunson's (school for evil geniuses in training) on board. Being
friends with two boys Lord Mercy and Soap the sootie will be much harder than
you will expect, considering that they are both fighting for her. As an
unexpected trip to London appears out of nowhere what will Sophrnoia have to
do to uncover the truth and save her friends?

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Genres:
The Scorpio Races
Stiefvater, Maggie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

How would it feel to ride the most powerful and the fastest thing on the
island of Thisbe? Well Sean Kendrick is doing just that, on his mount, the
water horse Core. And what will it be like for Puck Connoly? The first woman
to ride in the races, ever, on her island horse Dove? and how will this all
play out when Mut Malvern on a breathlessly fast piebald mare, who wants to
hurt Sean more than anything learns that Sean cares for Puck. What will
happen in the corse of 2 weeks of training and a 5 minute race.

Reviewer's Name: Anneka S.
Genres:
America is Not the Heart
Castillo, Elaine
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Sometimes, this book had amazing descriptions about experiences and
personalities. But the majority of the book was dreadfully dull and dragged
on and on. The main character described, in detail, her hook-up stories and
one-night stands, leading up to her more fruitful and lengthy relationship
with a witty, quick woman named Rosalyn. I felt that although physical
intimacy is a large factor in mature relationships, I really didn't need to
hear about EVERYTHING they did to each other.
I was drawn into the story because the plot seemed fascinating. In theory, it
would be, but the author was so fixated on producing a lengthy novel that the
story was drawn out. So the story line is this: Hero De Vera arrives in the
US as an illegal Filipino immigrant. Her uncle welcomes them into his home,
without questioning her very questionable past. The past where she dropped
out of medical school, took up one night stands with near strangers, and
joined the New People's Army, a discreet organization in the Philippines,
where lots of murderous secrets lurk. Hero moves into her uncles house, and
is welcomed into the work-alcoholic behavior of her uncle and aunt, who are
trying to provide for their family and others. Their young, American-born
Filipino daughter, Ronnie, is feisty and spunky. Hero meets Rosalyn and,
almost instantaneously, begins to nurture a crush for her. That is, until
their physical relationship begins. And THAT is when things got nasty.
In conclusion, an intriguing plot, terrible writing, and unnecessary details
on Hero's sexual pleasures. And it took a decent chunk out of my time, too.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
After Iris
Farrant, Natasha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is great! I loved how it captured a big-family dynamic, and how it
completely dived into the mind of Bluebell, the twin of Iris, now dead.
Bluebell struggles with her twin's death, the negligent behavior of her
mourning parents, and the varying personalities of her eccentric remaining
siblings. Her elder sister, Flora, is subject to outbursts, passionate rants,
and dying her dreadlocks pink. Blue's younger siblings, Twig and Jasmine
(yes, I'm aware they have stupid names) are temperamental and adorably
obsessed with anything cute and fluffy. When Blue's parents hire a stay-in
babysitter, Zoran, to tend to the kids full-time when the parents are away,
Blue realizes that she doesn't have to live in the shadow Iris left behind
when she died. She realizes she is her own person, outside of her deceased
twin.
I LOVED this book! It's about a large family coping with loss, and a former
twin coming to terms with her sister's premature death.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
George
Gino, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Since it was so short, it was a really quick read, but by no means an
easy one. I loved it because it was so eye opening, real, and heart breaking.
I hated it for the same reasons. It was incredible! The only reason it
doesn't get 5 stars is because it ended too quickly. "George" is about a 4th
grader who knows she's a girl born into a boy's body. As she struggles to
keep this concealed from her peers, she debates if she even should keep the
truth a secret. I don't want to spoil it too much, but she receives support
from some peers, and uncertainty and... almost disappointment?... from
others. Please read it, it's amazing! I loved it so much.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Genres:
They Both Die at the End
Silver, Adam
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

At some points this book was really slow, but all in all it was
really good! Essentially it's about two teenage boys with completely
different life styles. They're drawn together when they both receive the
ominous Death Call, a government-issued alert that warns the recipient that
they will die that day. Shaken, Mateo vows to stay inside his house,
contemplating that he'll never see his dad wake up from his comma, never see
his best friend's daughter grow up. Rufus is shaken as well, but, in a panic
after getting chased by the police, wonders around downtown. Until, a
mysterious app called Last Friend brings them together. They are strangers
and totally different. But it doesn't stop them from hanging out on their
last day, crossing things off their bucket list and saying their good byes.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was given me to as a present and I truly had no intention of ever reading it, but when I did, I was insanely shocked at how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't read a book like it before and I really enjoyed the drama that was in the story. I knew the plot was going to be interesting but I was really worried about how they would make a plot that didn't seem to shocking for a kid's book. The bullying part was done really well and I believe that instead of telling kids not to be mean, this book should be included in anti-bullying campaigns instead. This book can actually show children, especially younger ones, the effects that bullying anyone will have on the person. I really enjoyed the switching point of view from Auggie and Via because it was super interesting to see how Via reacted to everything about her brother as well, and the problems she had because of who her brother was. Since I had planned on regifting this book, I'm super glad I read it and while it may not be in my top ten favorites of all time, it does have a special place in my heart now.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Awards:
Genres:
Beneath
Smith, Roland
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book beneath fallows the story of a teenage boy trying to find his older brother in the abandoned subway systems of New York City. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense books. I would maybe read this book again but for me it was just a one time read.

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn H
The Heart Forger
Chupeco, Rin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Heart Forger is the second book in the Bone Witch series. This book is my favorite one so far. This fallows the story of Tea and her companions trying to find the Heart Forger after he goes missing. I would recommend this book only after you read the first book.

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn H
The Bone Witch
Chupeco, Rin
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Bone Witch is a book based on the stir of a girl who has dark magic. When she discovers her powers she learn she has to defend her home from the monsters who want to destroy it. I would highly recommend this book to people who like fantasy books. I did enjoy reading it but the trilogy is not quite complete just keep that in mind when you read this book.

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn H
Awards:

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